Last night we performed with the Classical Fusion Chamber Ensemble (CFCE) in the beautiful Shrine Church of St. Anthony of Padua. The concert was in remembrance of 9/11. This was the first time, to my knowledge, that POHC sang with a full orchestra and was directed by an outside conductor. It was an interesting experience.
There were sixteen pieces on the program. Seven were performed by orchestra alone, six by POHC alone, and three by the combined orchestra and choir. Of the three pieces we did together, Rene conducted two: “Star Spangled Banner” and “Non Nobis Domine.” The third, "Hope," was conducted by Stephen from CFCE. Those three were the most challenging to prepare.
We had two rehearsals. The first was in a studio barely large enough to contain the whole orchestra. The choir members stood in the back, squeezed against one another. Think rush hour in a subway car without air conditioning. The second was in the church, much more humane and roomy. During the rehearsals, we worked out the sound balance—the choir had to sing very loud in order not to be drowned out by the orchestra. And for “Hope,” we adapted to a different conducting style, a new way of getting cued in after many measures’ rest. POHC is nothing if not flexible and professional.
The actual performance went very well. Kudos to our two soloists, Marta in “Hope,” and Gary in “Non Nobis Domine.” Your beautiful voices soared with feeling in that church. And to Gail and Cheryl in "Wanemo," and Gwen and Cheryl in "Senzenia." And to the whole choir in the songs we did by ourselves, especially the spirit with which we sang “Give Us Hope.”
The highlight from CFCE for me was “A Call To Courage,” from the 2006 motion picture Ladder 49, about a firefighter. It was moving and exquisitely performed. I also loved watching their drummer, a boy so young he was probably born after 9/11.
While I enjoyed singing in this concert, I didn’t feel as much of a connection to the audience as I do in our smaller community concerts, where we get closer to the audience and sometimes walk among them. This was more formal, with the orchestra in the pit and the choir on the stage. Still, it was a thrilling experience. It was also nice to see many POHC members and spouses/partners in the audience.
Well-done, choir. And now we can look ahead to our regular seasion, with our regular conductor, the incomparable Rene.
It has become a tradition for a member of POHC to do a post-concert write-up. It started when our Sign-up Coordinator began emailing her summaries to the other members in order to entice newer members to sign-up to sing at community concerts held early in the season. It didn’t take long for Concert Write-ups to become greatly anticipated amongst our members, so we share them here in hopes that you’ll join us at a future concert